Step 2: Measure the Environmental Footprint

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Footprint Tool (EFT)

A product footprint is measured via the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): a scientific method which calculates the impact a product has on the environment, throughout its entire lifecycle. 

To help companies comply with the EU Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD) – and the LCA principles it incorporates – IDH’s Sector Initiatives have developed the Environmental Footprint Tool (EFT).

The tool works to calculate the total environmental footprint of a product and demonstrate which processes contribute the most (the ‘hotspots’). It also helps companies to streamline their data collection and analysis  – across their supply chains – and create baselines and targets to expedite and scale up climate actions.  

To use the tool, companies must carry out the following steps: 

  • Measure the environmental footprint of a product, that includes at least two planetary boundaries 
  • Analyse the life cycle assessment and prioritise hotspots 
  • Create baselines 
  • Monitor progress on performance 

For example, a retailer in the seafood sector would need to collect data from their suppliers along the entire supply chain. This includes data on the feed, farm, primary processing, packaging, transportation, distribution and retail. At the ‘feed’ stage, the data should incorporate feed ingredients, nutrient composition, energy and water used at the feed mill. At the ‘farm’ stage, we need to understand the types of feed used, farm materials, field, nitrogen and phosphorus composition of yield. For transportation, the data must cover the type of transport and distance covered.